Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Best laid plans beaten by the weather

The return of the cold weather will not be welcomed by our farmers. Last week's newsletter from Riverford, best laid plans beaten by the weather, complained that their cauliflower, cabbage, leeks, and purple sprouting broccoli have hardly moved on, so they are having difficulty balancing the root vegetables in the weekly boxes. Instead, last week's box contained aubergines and red peppers from Spain and broccoli from Italy.

Although unseasonal, these made a refreshing change: should I dip aubergine slices in flour and fry in olive oil? what about aubergine fritters, coated in a light batter? or an Italian-style aubergine Parmigiana? In the end I opted for this baba ghanoush recipe from Riverford. Right now, some dough is proving for flat breads to be cooked under the grill tomorrow.

As for the peppers, I made a batch of pepperonata, following a recipe from Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book. Thinly slice an onion and finely chop 1 or 2 cloves of garlic; cook in olive oil until just starting to colour. Deseed and finely slice the pepper and add to the pan; cover with a lid and allow to stew gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and simmer gently, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, by which time most of the liquid will have gone. Season to taste with salt, pepper, sugar, and a splash of red wine vinegar. This is delicious hot or cold - I used half of this batch to make some individual tartlets (pictured).

Of course, there were root vegetables to be used up too, and the parsnips went into another of Grigson's recipes:  curried parsnip soup - sweet and spicy, and the perfect way to counter the winter weather.

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